MIRACLES FROM HEAVEN
When Christy (Jennifer Garner) discovers her 10-year-old daughter Anna (Kylie Rogers) has a rare, incurable disease, she becomes a ferocious advocate for her daughter's healing as she searches for a solution. After Anna has a freak accident, a miracle unfolds in the wake of her dramatic rescue that leaves medical specialists mystified, her family restored and their community inspired. (Based on a true story.)
Review by Louise Keller:
Told with sincerity, heart and a winning performance by Jennifer Garner, the trouble with this weepie about faith is its melodramatic, manipulative and syrupy treatment. Based on Christy Beam's memoir about her young daughter's serious digestive illness, there is no denying the tragedy of the situation when a child falls ill, struggles to get a diagnosis and treatment and the family struggles to pay the associated medical costs. It is the inexplicable elements that occur later on however that are the most fascinating, opening a window into a different realm.
From the outset, director Patricia Riggen (The 33) establishes the strong faith and close-knit unit of the Beam family. Garner plays Christy, devoted mother of three young girls and wife of a vet (a bearded Martin Henderson), who live on a Texas property along with dogs, cows and a donkey. Church plays a big part in their lives and in an early scene, we meet sympathetic Pastor Scott (John Carroll Lynch), who declares that while faith cannot be seen or bought, it is the only true shelter in life. The onset of 10 year-old Anna's (Kylie Rogers, natural) illness is quick: pain, discomfort, bloating, doctors, tests and confusion. Anyone who has ever waited for months for an appointment with a specialist will relate to Christy's distress as she becomes a name on the bottom of a waiting list. While the esteemed specialist Dr Nurko (Eugenio Derbez) may well have charmed his young, ill patients as depicted, his clown-like gags, balloons and talking tie never rings true.
More effective and emotionally powerful is the scene in which Anna befriends her hospital room mate Haley (Hannah Alligood), while the scene in the church involving Haley's atheist journalist father (Wayne Pere), is one of the film's most touching. Queen Latifah brightens things up as Angela, the Boston waitress who takes the day off to play tour guide (even if it is Pollyanna-like) and other incidental characters effectively play their part.
Garner carries the film with integrity and humanity and although it may play mawkish to some, others who are tired of the onslaught of crass, low-brow fare with sexual innuendo and cringeworthy dialogue may find it a refreshing change.
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MIRACLES FROM HEAVEN (PG)
CAST: Jennifer Garner, Kylie Rogers, Martin Henderson, Eugenio Derbez, Brighton Sharbino
PRODUCER: DeVon Franklin, T. D. Jakes, Joe Roth
DIRECTOR: Patricia Riggen
SCRIPT: Randy Brown (novel by Christy Beam)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Checco Varese
EDITOR: Emma EW. Hickox
MUSIC: Carlo Silitto
PRODUCTION DESIGN: David Sandefur
RUNNING TIME: 109 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Sony
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 17, 2016